MateriAttiva @Brera Design Week 2019
Sustainability: you are the future! Mario Cucinella at the Cornell Univercity

ARPAE: the relationship between form and performance

By Mario Cucinella

«The ARPAE building in Ferrara explores the relationship between form and performance, that makes it the first hybrid public building in Italy. It houses the Regional Agency for Environmental, and is located in a particular climatic context. We are just outside the city of Ferrara, whose climate oscillates between two extremes: hot and humid in the summer, cold and damp in winter. Only in spring do we have a normal relationship between temperature and humidity.

I am pointing this out because the definition of sustainability— which still needs to be worked out—is not only concerned with aesthetics, but also relationships of empathy with places, climate, and people. The roofing consists in a series of 112 chimneys that have a twofold function: controlling light distribution, and enhancing natural ventilation. The chimneys work differently in summer and in winter. In the summertime, the chimney effect expels air in the upper part of the building, thus avoiding the buildup of heat, whereas in winter, they work like greenhouses: accumulating solar heat that gets pumped back inside the building. This entire process is cost-free, and needs no technological add-ons. This is the idea I would like to explore: investing more in analysis and simulation rather than on technology alone, creating a hybrid building.

This is what best represents the true change leading to a new, ecological age, that transforms environmental risks related to climate emergency to an opportunity of development. The building is entirely made of wood and constructed on site. It is built around an inner patio, which also functions as a climatic garden. Building with wood, controlling natural light and ventilation, using technology sparingly, and focusing on well being, comfort, and quality of space: these are the ingredients for defining sustainability as a new form of visible and invisible beauty»

This project has won an international design competition for a new building complex that will house office and laboratories. The complex will cover an area of 5,000 square meters. The client asked for a sustainable office building that could meet the highest architectural and environmental standards.